Turkey court says demanding freedom for Ocalan is free speech

<p style="text-align:left">Turkey&amp;rsquo;s Constitutional Court has ruled that demanding the release from prison of Kurdistan Workers&amp;rsquo; Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and launching a campaign to agitate for his release fall within the boundaries of freedom of expression, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

The top court ruled on the individual petitions of two people who were sentenced to 10 months in jail each on terrorism charges for distributing campaign forms with Ocalan&rsquo;s photo on them.
Authorities in the southeastern Kurdish province of Diyarbakir in February 2015 seized a number of forms prepared by Berrin Baran Eker and Muzzaffer Ozbek. Titled &ldquo;Signature petition for Abdullah Ocalan&rsquo;s freedom,&rdquo; the forms read: &ldquo;I support the demand for the release of Abdullah Ocalan and political prisoners in Turkey. The freedom of Ocalan will be the most important step for the democratization of Turkey and the peace process in Kurdistan.&rdquo;
Eker and Izbek were members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democratic Party (BDP), the predecessor of the Peoples&rsquo; Democratic Party (HDP). An investigation was then launched on allegations of disseminating terrorist propaganda.
The Diyarbakir 4th High Criminal Court in May 2015 sentenced Eker and Ozbek to 10 months in jail. The applicants&rsquo; appeal at the Diyarbakir 4th High Criminal Court was rejected, which made it possible for them to take their case to the Constitutional Court.
Handing down a verdict similar to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the top court said the lower court&rsquo;s decision violated the applicants&rsquo; right to freedom of thought and expression.
A retrial will be held for Eker and Ozbek at the Diyarbakir 4th High Criminal Court following the top court&rsquo;s ruling.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US. Ocalan has been imprisoned since 1999.
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